Saturday, June 11, 2011

Nature vs Nurture

by Victoria

An ex-colleague of mine posted this article, Hey Parents, Leave Those Kids Alone, on his facebook page recently which intrigued me enough to read it. It picked up the debate over Amy Chua, nicknamed the Tiger mum, the Yale Professor who wrote about her strict parenting style in her book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother". This article responded to the question of how much pressure we should apply on our children with "none".

The debate over nature (the talents and abilities you're born with) and nurture (the training and environment you grow up in) is a never-ending one. I like to think that neither the total 'hands-off' approach of totally kicking back and letting nature take its course, nor pushing your child until they, and you, are close to losing your minds, is the solution to giving a child the best opportunity in life. The best would be to balance nature and nurture but the trick is figuring out the right balance. And that is perhaps what makes parenting one fine art.

I suppose there is always a concern that some parents would look at their kids and say,"he or she is never going to be a doctor/ nurse/ carpenter/ hairdresser, so we should just all kick back", and at the other extreme, parents who always say "they can be better", and constantly criticising their children without celebrating their achievements.

In addition, we read of famous sports stars, like Tiger Woods, who has in the past credited his father for being tough with him which contributed to his success in golf. Therefore, the critical question is "do we push our kids in areas where they are talented or is it far better that they push themselves in something they enjoy even if they are not talented in that area?"

For me, I feel it's important that Miss P learns that to achieve something, hard work is a prerequisite. Yet within that lesson, I want her to know that she has free will too and not exasperate her by making all of life's choices for her. It's important that she learns the consequences of some of her choices. For example, if you sleep late, you'll wake up feeling awful and grumpy. So, it's better to sleep early and enjoy your day ahead. Whether she'll understand or choose to understand is quite another thing, but I can only try. That said, this parenting journey is a 2-way street. As much as Miss P learns from me, I'm sure I'll learn from her too.

I am not a Tiger Mum aspirant and have no desire to be one. While I like to think I take pride in my child's achievements, I do concur with a friend who said that she does not take credit for her child's good or bad behaviour. This is because while they were growing up, she emphasised the importance of being responsible and of owning up to what they had done. She felt that there is a tendency these days to lay the blame on someone else when something goes wrong in one's life and there is a failure to take responsibility for one's own actions.

To end this little post on nature vs nurture, I came across this little quote in my local gym which resonated with me, is relevant to this topic, and one that I'll like to share with you:

Success is best measured by how far you've come with the talents you have. ~ Anonymous

I'll love to hear about your parenting style or a style you aspire to, and how do you strike the right balance in parenting?

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